Owning a landscaping business – heck, owning any business – is not for the faint of heart. If you’re struggle with getting the kind of work you really like to do, then this post provides some tips to fine-tune your services to help you close more sales.
It all starts with you. Most small businesses are really extensions of the individuals who own them. Your beliefs and passions are all wrapped up in why you’ve chosen this line of work, and to open a business of your own. Once you understand that, it becomes easier to sit down to define and document your company’s purpose and mission. That, of course, should involve something that excites you and gives you a reason to get up every morning. Only then are you in a position to clearly state what it is you’re offering.
Defining what you offer
Your capacity for providing service will help define what it is that you offer in the short-term and what you might consider adding later as your business grows. Take a moment to focus in on what your central service is and how you deliver on that service. You’ll want to think of that as the hub of a wheel. That’s the central essence of your company.
Next consider what the supporting services might be that would be ideal complements to your central service. These complementary services are the spokes of the service wheel. They are the perfect add-ons and upsells to increase your value to your client.
For example, if your central service is lawn mowing, you might take on lawn health care and manage the soil composition as well as fertility. You may even become an expert in weed management and insect control - all in the lawn environment. You may even add the complementary services of lawn renovations in the form of compost applications, aeration, and slice seeding. Additional services such as these make perfect sense both from what you can offer and what your clients might be interested in buying to complement the service you’re already providing.
If you’re not in a position to offer all of these additional complementary services right away, you might consider managing their delivery through a subcontractor arrangement. This approach will allow you to effectively create a solution for your clients and earn you added income in the form of a management fee and/or a reasonable mark-up on your subcontractors services.
So now you’ve established what your central and complementary services are. Your next job is to determine how you deliver what you’re offering. You’ll need to come up with a sales proposition that focuses on your central service as the highest value element of your offering. Then, you’ll create a solid rationale for why adding some if not all of your complementary services makes perfect sense. This way of selling will help steer your sales toward clients that really need and appreciate your thoughtful service menu - not to mention the ease of getting such a full packaged value from one service provider. This makes your accounts both satisfying and profitable for you.
Satisfaction is the key
Go back and reread that last sentence. Notice the underlying concept “This makes your accounts both satisfying and profitable for you.” Therein lies the path to success.
There is nothing more painful or demoralizing than working for someone requiring you to do something that runs counter to your philosophy and the mission you’ve established for your landscape business. Not only will you be miserable, you also won’t be able to achieve your potential for success because your heart won’t truly be in it.
I recall several incidents early in my career that taught me this lesson the hard way. I had one client who basically scolded me for not simply shearing his shrubs, which made me feel horrible because I had just spent a day carefully hand pruning them all.
Another didn’t want me to hand weed their shrub borders, but rather encouraged me to apply a chemical weed control (pre-emergent) on all the open mulch areas of their landscape to deter weeds. This practice runs counter to my philosophy of seeking natural balance between soils and plants, but somehow I was convinced to try this toxic application. It was a horrible day for me and I cried all the way home because I had let myself be talked into a practice I didn’t believe in.
I’ll never forget another wanting me to take a string trimmer and clear-cut a slope in a misguided attempt to fix something he perceived as a problem. In reality, the problem would simply grow right back in a matter of weeks and nothing would be fixed. The work was a futile exercise and a monumental waste of my time and his money, and that’s not how I wanted to do business.
Experiences like these left me feeling marginalized as a person by the very career I loved, so I decided not to allow myself to accept work that ran counter to my philosophies, my mission or my values. People can want whatever they want, I simply didn’t have to be their service provider.
Instead, I learned to develop and offer services that squared with my beliefs, training, and knowledge – to do business my way. I found that when I did that, I could sell my services more successfully because I believed deeply in what I was doing and was able to enthusiastically convey how it could benefit my clients. As a result, my business has grown year after year and I have no regrets about the work I’ve agreed to take on or the work I’ve respectfully turned down. I encourage you to think about how you want your business to evolve and pledge to be true to yourself and what feels right to you.